April 2, 2009

Billy Collins: “Introduction to Poetry”

Posted in Poetry at 1:10 pm by The Lizard Queen

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

—Billy Collins, 1996



  1. troy said,

    Thanks for this 🙂

  2. gye nyame said,

    Great way to start!

    Damn… that reminds me of 82.7% of my classroom experiences with poetry… the interrogators (…er, professors) wouldn’t just let the poet speak.

    Poetry requests/begging enroute 😉

  3. iris said,

    Love this one.

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